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Western Price Survey / Archives

October 8, 2004
Power Costs Affected Little by Outages

Given the lack of excessive demand for the commodity, the price for electricity had little incentive to move much during this week. The cost for power throughout the West stuck close to last week's closing prices.

The trading schedule was a little off this week, however, in anticipation of next Monday's Columbus Day holiday in the United States and Tuesday's Thanksgiving Day holiday in Canada. Trading for next Sunday and Monday delivery was conducted at the Canadian exchanges on Thursday, while power scheduled for delivery next Tuesday was traded on Friday.

The price of peak power at SP15 led the pack again this week, rising as high as 55.25 mills/KWh in Tuesday trading. The price mostly hovered around the 50 mills/KWh mark during the week. The price of low-demand power in the southern region of California ranges from 29.75 mills/KWh on Monday to 40.25 mills/KWh for next Monday delivery.

North of Path 15 peak power trailed behind slightly, topping out at 54.25 mills/KWh, also on Tuesday. The price of off-peak power in NP15 hit 37.25 mills/KWh on Tuesday, but shed 1 to 3 mills the following day. Still, for next-week deliveries it was back up to 35 mills/KWh.

California-Oregon Border power prices hung back from the SP15 costs by anywhere from 8 to 10 mills this week. Opening for a low of 41.50 mills/KWh on Monday, peak power at COB attracted a high of 49 mills/KWh for next Monday delivery. Off-peak power at COB treaded water in the low to mid-30s much of the week before scooted upward for weekend and next-week deliveries. Off-peak power at COB topped out at 41 mills/KWh in Thursday trading.

Mid-Columbia power and Palo Verde power traded for similar prices this week. Mid-C peak power drew a high of 44.25 mills/KWh on Thursday but generally stayed in the low 40s this week. Off-peak power costs ranged from 31.50 mills/KWh at the beginning of the week to 39.50 mills/KWh in late-week trading.

The California Independent System Operator has adjusted the way it reports generator outages for units outside its control area. Rather than reflect the total number of megawatts that may be off line at a facility, the grid operator now reports just the amount out that affects its territory. For example, though Palo Verde's 1,270 MW No. 3 unit is unavailable, Cal-ISO's generator-outage report lists total capacity from the entire nuclear facility as 620 MW--the amount allocated to California. Consequently, the amount of power shown as unavailable on the report is just 206 MW.

In other outage news, the 404 MW Helms pumped storage Unit No. 3 was taken off line for unscheduled reasons in the middle of the week and remained off line on Friday. AES' 178 MW Redondo Unit No. 5 and Reliant's 320 MW Etiwanda Unit No. 3 were also unavailable going into the weekend.

As reported earlier, the 1,108 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit No. 3 is on a refueling outage, as is the Palo Verde Unit No. 3 [Shauna O'Donnell].

Up then Down Goes the Gas Bubble

The price of natural gas got another boost this week from the continuing escalation in crude-oil prices and the slow struggle to get Gulf of Mexico production back up to pre-Hurricane Ivan levels.

After beginning the week in the vicinity of $4.40/MMBtu, gas at Western producing basins surpassed the $5.00 mark midweek as oil was pegged at a high of $52 per barrel. Gas delivered to California points reached highs of $5.63/MMBtu at PG&E's CityGate hub, $5.25/MMBtu at Malin and $5.47/MMBtu at Topock. Prices dropped considerably throughout the West for weekend deliveries, recorded by some indices as low as $3.51/MMBtu.

Pacific Gas & Electric's California Gas Transmission system was preoccupied much of this week with managing flows in its pipelines. The company was forced to call three operational flow orders because of high inventory--system-wide calls on October 6 and 9 and a customer-specific OFO on October 8. All of the OFOs were Stage 3 with a non-compliance charge of $5.00/Dth. All three allowed for a zero tolerance band [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
October 4 - 8, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 25-159.75 10.94-44.81
Mid-Columbia 38.50-44.25 31.50-39.50
COB 41.50-49 32.50-41
NP 15 48-54.25 33.50-42
SP 15 47.75-55.25 29.75-40.50
Palo Verde 39-48 25.25-34.50

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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